Peach Jam for a lazy day!

Saturn Peach Jam

Two weeks ago i suggested to Marissa a co-post about summer jam. Cooking jam is my way to take some relaxing time … doing nothing complicated, just peeling fruits, adding sugar and stirring. Maybe while reading a book and … stirring !!! I’ve really needed a day off after months of works at home remodelling it: fixing, covering, painting, moving from a place to place all furniture, choosing parquet floor, placing it and then scrubbing, cleaning and finally set all the furniture back. Now our home starts looking comfortable and in our “home sweet home” way!!!

my feet and our new wooden floor

There is still a lot work to do , but we start to see the end!!!

To celebrate this special moment we’ve decided to have a picnic in our living room, sitted on our new wooden floor ( it still smell wood!!!). And having my peach jam as a special guest  … with crepes !!!

Yesterday i went to Pisa, Piazza delle Vettovaglie, a nice square , few minutes from Piazza dei Miracoli, where everyday there is a big market. It is possible to buy delicious fruits and vegetables but also bread, cheese, ham, fresh pasta and sweeties!

Piazza delle Vettovaglie - Pisa  Mercato di frutta in Piazza delle Vettovaglie

Thinking about my jam, I bought some nectarines, lemons and Saturn Peaches, my favorite variety of peaches. In Italy they are called Pesca Tabacchiera. The fruits are flat, strange to see but really sweet and crunchy. Mmmmm

And then back home to cook !!!

Saturn Peach and Lemon Jam

marmellata di pesche pronta!

1kg Saturn Peaches
400gr of sugar
1 lemon

pesche tabacchiera  pesca tabacchiera  a pezzi!!!

le pesche stanno cuocendo  schiuma durante la cottura  schiumata

Wash peaches, then chop and weigh. In a pot add 400gr of sugar each 1kg of fruit (without stones) weight, mix well, cover and leave the mixture for a night. The morning after set the pot on fire, low heat. During the night syrup comes out from fruits, in this way the cooking time will be shorter! Add the lemon juice. Peeled the lemon and cut the skin in squares and then add to the fruit mixture. Stir constantly. Skim off foam. Cook untill the jam is thick. It is not necessary taking out the lemon skin because it becomes tender! When jam is thick enough, put hot mixture into hot sterilized jars and turn them up side down to cool down.

I use the same recipe to prepare the traditional peach jam !!!

Buon Appetito!!!

 

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Spring, Rain, Asparagus and Frittata

The calendar says the spring it’s here, but the weather says something different … rain and always rain !!! What a crazy  season: rain and cold in the morning, sun and warmth in the afternoon and the day after? who knows! We have to go out in the morning with jackets and sweater, and come back home in a sweat …

Are you going to come to Tuscany now? Would you like to know what kind of clothes put in your luggage? Everything! Jackets and tops,  sweater and light t-shirts, boots and flip flop, jeans and shorts … everything! You have to be ready for all kind of weather !!!  Last week in the morning, around 9am,  i was going to the lab crossing Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, i was wearing a jacket because it was raining and for me it was cold, some tourists were wearing shorts and t-shirt.  In the afternoon it was sunny and so hot that i sweated to death … it is hard to give a good advice!!!

asparagi

Rain or not, it’s spring and i love this season and i love the asparagus that grow in this season. Usually in April, every sunday morning, we go around  fields looking for wild asparagus. They are fantastic and very tasty, more than the normal ones. Pasta, Risotto, soups, fried eggs, frittata  ( and more recipes) are fantastic prepared with wild asparagus. Every sunday i was ready for my “asparagus hunt” with basket and knife but, as i said, this crazy season hasn’t given me the possibility to look for them: it was raining for all April and now i cannot find them anymore. Fortunately markets are full of “traditional” asparagus.

For our co-post about spring, Marissa and i have decided to share a recipe with asparagus. She has prepared Polenta Huevos Rancheros with Asparagus (yummi !!!), i have prepared my asparagus&gorgonzola frittata:

frittata asparagi&gorgonzola

Asparagus&Gongorzola Frittata

5 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
a small piece of butter
a big piece of gorgonzola
500gr asparagus, trimmed
olive oil
a clove of garlic
a pinch of salt
a pinch of pepper

asparagi  asparagi in padella  frittata

gorgonzola  frittata con gorgonzola  asparagi saltati in padella

In a saucepan saute the clove of garlic in extravergine olive oil, then add the asparagus. Cover and cook them untill they become tender.
In a bowl, beat eggs, add milk, salt and pepper. In a pan (not the one with asparagus!) melt the butter. Then pour the egg mixture, cover and cook over medium-low heat until eggs are nearly set, about 10 minutes. Cut thin slices of gorgonzola. When the frittata is almost ready ( still liquid on top), put the slices of cheese on the frittata. When the cheese is melted, add the asparagus. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more.

Buon Appetito !!!

Lacinato Kale Crostini

Cavolo Nero or Lacinato Kale … what a strange vegetable!!!

I discovered this crunchy and tasty vegetables ten years ago when I moved to Tuscany. The first time I saw it I was a little bit disappointed about touching the dark green, curly and rugose leaves. They seemed to be an “alien” veggie … a mix between organic staff and hard gum !!!!!!!!!!

Lacinato Kale  Lacinato Kale Crostini

But when finally I tried them, my idea had to change and I felt in love !!! Now i use a lot the lacinato kale to prepare soups, a nice risotto and some tasty crostini!

Every time I have a dinner with friends or a simple quick lunch with family, I prepare these crostini … sometimes i top them with different ingredients as spicy olive oil, fried bacon or flakes of Pecorino cheese, but always using the basic original recipe !

Thank to Marissa I have learned something new: I was thinking this kind of cabbage was typically from Tuscany and almost unknown in the rest of the world. When she proposed a “lacinato kale post” I had to look in a vocabulary to understand this strange word and, with joy, I’ve discovered it was my adorable “cavolo nero” and it was possible to use it in lots of different recipes as the delicious salad Marissa has prepared for her post!

Thanks to Marissa i’ll try a new delicious salad but also a “new version” of my lacinato kale crostini … with almond and garlic raisin on top!!! An incredible mix of the 2 recipe !!!

Lacinato Kale Crostini

A bunch of Lacinato Kale
2 Cloves Garlic
Extravergine olive oil
Slices of bread ( Tuscan bread if possible!!!)
Rocky salt
Water

Chop the lacinato kale in big pieces. In a pan sauté the garlic in extra verging olive oil until you can smell the garlic ( make attention not to burn it ). Add the lacinato kale, stir and make it fry a little bit. Add water and a pinch of rocky, stir and cover. Let it cook until it became tender, add water if necessary. Drizzle some extravergine olive oil on slices of bread and bake them in the oven for 10 minutes. Top them with cooked lacinato kale. If there is some water left in the pan  put some on the slices of bread before the lacinato kale …  it gives a very good taste!!!

Buon Appetito!

A busy day and a tasty soup

I like a lot to make posts with Marissa, and this time I am twice happy for our “soup swap” post. Today I had a busy day. When i got home i was really tired and freezed, outside the weather was cold. I went straight to the kitchen and i started preparing the soup i’ve decided to cook for our soup swap post, Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup following Marissa‘s recipe. While i was cooking all the fatigue e il chilly sensation went away, and we all enjoyed this delicious and creamy soup … the perfect meal after a cold and busy day! And thank you Marissa for your “buonissima” soup!!!

zuppa di zucca

Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup

a Butternut Squash ( i used 600gr)
a large onion
a sweet potato
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
chicken or vegetable broth
a piece of fresh ginger
extravergine olive oil
salt
black pepper
nutmeg

Peel and cut into large pieces the butternut squash, the onion and the sweet potato. In a pan add olive oil and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add butternut, potato and garlic, stir and add the broth. The broth has to cover all the chunks. After 15 minutes add the ginger and stir. Let it cook untill the butternut squash and potato are soft. Puree the soup using an immersion blender. Add nutmeg and black pepper to taste.

In Marissa’s recipe, it’s supposed to serve the soup with creme fraiche or sour creme. I could not find both of them so i added a small spoon of fresh ricotta made with sheep milk ( it’s more salty and tasty than the one made with cow milk).

Buon Appetito!!!

Autumn in Tuscany and Castagnaccio Recipe

The Fall Season is the subject of our second “America-Italy” Post. Marissa and I both love autumn, and our idea is to describe all the feelings that this season brings to us. One of my dreams is spending an entire autumn travelling around USA, watching the nature changing colors, living all the traditions, first of all Halloween and Thanksgiving, and trying all the delicious fall recipes. One day I’ll do for sure, for now i love reading Marissa’s post and try her tasty recipe, and I enjoy the Italian autumn!

I like all the seasons but autumn has a special appeal to me! Autumn carries something new everyday: the change of the landscape colors, the sky shades, the scents of the air, with the fall season, markets show new fruits and vegetables on stall and new flowers in vases.

In Autumn there are no important holidays or celebrations in Italy. But there is something special in the Tuscan Autumn, a particular atmosphere , a “back to the country life” atmosphere . Most the activities of this season involve products of the land and what they are transformed in. All the activities offer the possibility to go back to what it’s simple and enjoy “country life”. This is the time for walking in woods looking for mushrooms or chestnuts, spending days outside picking up olives, collecting firewood in the forest and for kids running around collecting dry leaves and pinecones. In tuscany and all Italy Fall season means also hunting season, i do not like it but it’s another part of our country life. All these activities remember to us the significance of the farmland in our life, remind us that the countryside is part of us. My last consideration: the autumn remind us also how warmful and joyful is spending time together doing all these activities.

Here some autumn activities in Tuscany:
One of the most important activity in Tuscany it’s the olive picking and the production of Extravergine Olive Oil. At the end of October the picking starts. It can be done by hand or using tractors with an compressed air machine and some mechanic rakes. Everyday, at the end of the day, all the picked olives have to be taken to the olive press. The day after you’ll have your new extravergine olive oil. Some farms, like Podere Vignali, organize olive picking days open to guests…It is a nice experience to try!!!

In autumn a lot of people loves searching for mushrooms,

and chestnuts

Chestnuts are delicious, we eat them in a lot of way: roasted, dry and boiled in milk. It is possible to produce flour from chestnuts, it is used principally to prepare pasta (principally tagliatelle), cakes ( see my recipe!!!) and biscuits. We have chestnut recipes for risotto or soups. Also it’s possible to prepare chestnut jam, sweets (my favorite is Marron Glacè … see the photo above) and taste chestnut biere.
In Tuscany there are a lot of areas with woods of chestnut tree but 5 places are very famous for the quality of these fruits, where it’s possible to find the DOP and IGP chestnut and its products. These 5 places are: Garfagnana (Lucca) known for a special chestnut flour “la Farina di Neccio”, Lunigiana (Massa Carrara) for the chestnut and the chestnut flour, Mugello (Firenze), Amiata(Grosseto) and Caprese Michelangelo (Arezzo) known for their special chestnuts.

Another autumn activity is collecting and setting all the firewood, ready for the cold season. I love to lay in front of a fireplace, with friends and family, talking and drinking wine … W Autumn!!!

My favorite activity is dedicated to the autumn fruits (and most of the time prepare jams) and vegetables. In a market it’s normal to find apples, pears, kaki, grapes, escarole, cauliflowers and broccoli in autumn, but, in Tuscany, in this season there are some other particular fruits as queens, loquat, “corbezzoli”, pomegranate

and vegetables as cavolo nero, variety of cabbage and chard, perfect ingredients for delicious soups

for example Ribollita !

As i wrote above i love autumn. For me the autumn means all these activities and more. I love all the situations that fall season inspire me … like the pleasure to walk with the cool breeze on face, to admir the morning mist rise and dissapear with the sun and when it’s too cold to stay at home with family and friends … and to cook seasonal recipe for all !!!

Here a autumn tuscan recipe, Il castagnaccio , the chestnut flour cake, easy and delicious !!!

Castagnaccio

350ml water
250gr chestnut flour
100gr raisins
60gr pinenuts
60gr walnut (coarsely groud)
3 tbs of olive oil
2 pinches of salt
some rosemary needles

Pass the flour throught a sieve and put it on a bowl. Mix the water and the olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Add the water and olive oil mix to the flour slowly, while mixing. The batter has to be soft , not too liquid. Add pinenuts, walnuts and raisins and mix well. Oil a pan large enough so the castagnaccio will be 1cm thick. Pour the batter. Put the rosemary needles on the batter ( i have not done it because i do not like it !). Bake it at 200°C (400 Fahrenheit) for 40 minutes.
Buon Appetito!!!

Stew Escarole

Thursday i went to the farmer’s market close to home. Looking around I found my favorite lettuce, the escarole or endive!!!!!! I was very happy when I saw it on the stall for 2 reasons:  finding the escarole at the market means autumn is arriving  and i adore the autumn, and, in second place, with the escarole i prepare a very tasty dish:  Stew Escarole.

I use Escarole, a salad green of the chicory family, in many winter recipes like soups and stew meats, because it has a  particular taste: a little bit bitter but it is perfect with something sweeter. I’ve tried this recipe the first time i met my mother in law( that time she was just my probable future mother in law!!!) and i liked it very much, ever since she prepares it all the time we go visiting her for Christmas.

Scarola Stufata

2 bunches of Escarole, trimmed and torn
3-4 anchovy fillets in olive oil or a tablespoon of anchovy paste
a garlic clove, minced
a small cup of black olives, called “olive taggiasche”, without stones
2 tablespoons of pine nuts
1/3 cup of raisins
extravergine olive oil
rocky salt

Wash each leaf well and pat dry really well. Turn on the heat, put the escarole in a pan with olive oil, cover and stew it for a couple of minutes,  the escarole has to lose water. Remove the water, take aside the escarole and, in the same pan, sautè olive oil,  garlic and anchovies. Breaking up anchovies, put the escarole, add salt and stir a little bit, cover and stew for 2 minutes. Then add olives, raisins and pine nuts and let it cook for 10 minutes. Ready !

Usually i serve it with meat, but i love it on a vegetarian pizza!!!

Buon Appetito !!!

Red Peppers&Green Capers

I like peppers and i like capers … and i love them together in a very easy recipe!!!

 

Red Peppers with Green Capers

3 red peppers
200gr of capers in brine ( keep the brine!!!)
a small onion – sliced
a clove of garlic
extravergine olive oil
salt

Cut the peppers in small cubes. In a pan saute garlic – finely chopped – onion in olive oil . Add peppers, salt and stir. Cook for 5 minutes and then add capers and the brine. Stir and let it cook for 10-15 minutes. The peppers have to cook in the brine and they have to remain crunchy.

Buon Appetito!!!

“My Personal” Caponata

The summer is almost over and i’m happy …. here in Tuscany, and in all Italy, the weather has been really really hot and staying in a kitchen could be very unpleasant ! Now the air is fresher, and I’m glad to be back in front of my pans. Yesterday I ran to the market and I bought some big eggplant and some “San Marzano” tomatoes to prepare a dish that I love! Here my personal way to cook Caponata, a typical italian dish from Sicily. My recipe is much easier and lighter than the original, but very tasty!

“My Personal” Caponata

2 big eggplants
4 “San Marzano” tomatoes, cutted in small pieces
A red onion (cipolla di Tropea), sliced
A garlic, finely chopped
Some leaves of basil, chopped
Rocky salt
Extravergine olive oil

Peeled the eggplants and cut them in small cubes. Saute’ the garlic and onion in olive oil in a pan. Add the eggplant cubes and stir, let them cook for 15 minutes. Add cutted tomatoes, rocky salt and stir. Add the basil  and mix all together 30 minutes more. My personal caponata is ready! It is good served hot or cold … and the day  after is better !  A little tip : if you eat it cold, drop some balsamic vinegar on it … Taste really good!!!

Buon appetito!

Pesto alle Zucchine

Summer is an “easy and handy” season: few clothes to wear, few staff to wash and to iron, suitcases fast to pack, no expensive heater, if you have a garden, lots of fresh vegetables and herbs and also easy and quick recipes to prepare. Pasta with Pesto sauce is one of the typical summer dishes, quick and tasty !!!

I love Pesto sauce and sometimes i like to try new version of it, like this one. I hope you appreciate it as we did last night !!!!

Pesto alle Zucchine

2 zucchini, cut in small pieces
a onion
10 leaves of Basil
30gr of Pine nuts
20gr Almonds
50gr Parmesan Cheese
Extravergine olive Oil q.b.
Salt

Sautè the zucchini with onion in extravergine olive oil, until the zucchini are tender. Add rocky salt as you like. When ready put them in a mixer with pine nuts, almonds, basil and extravergine olive oil. Mix for a minute and then add parmesan cheese. Mix again.

 

Cook the pasta ( i prefer spaghetti or linguini with pesto sauce). When it’s cooked “al dente”, drain it. In a pan , put  the pesto sauce and the pasta. Mix all together, heating for a couple of minutes and serve.

Buon Appetito!!!

PS i’m sorry for the photos, but there wasn’t a good light … but the pasta was delicious !!!